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Potsdam again amongst region’s best in 3-8 test scores


POTSDAM - With the implementation of testing that aligned with the Common Core, Potsdam, like nearly any other school district in the state, saw a dip in their 2013 test scores, but rather than focusing on the negatives the elementary and middle school principals noted their students’ scores were still among the highest scores in the region.

“I like how we’re always on the right side,” said Elementary Principal Larry B. Jenne, referring to graphs included in a presentation detailing last year’s results.

Prior to starting the presentation, Mr. Jenne said it’s important for board of education members, as well as the public, to realize the new tests were different from anything students had ever seen before.

“Basically we’re starting with a new baseline now,” Mr. Jenne said. “We can’t compare these to what we had before.”

Middle school Principal Mark Bennett said the one thing they compare the results to, is how Potsdam students fared against the state average and other schools in the region.

“What we did is look at the results here and compare them to the rest of the region, the state and comparable districts,” he said.

Looking at the results as a whole, the 39 percent of Potsdam students in grades three through eight who met or exceeded the new ELA standards was 8 percent higher than the state average of 31 percent.

While the math results weren’t quite as impressive, the district did again exceed the state average with 32 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standards versus 31 percent doing so statewide.

Starting with third-grade ELA results, the district was tops in the region with a 35 percent proficiency rate, well above the state average of 31.1 percent and the county average of only 10.6 percent.

The district did struggle in third-grade math with only 19 percent of students reaching proficiency. That fell below the state average of 34.2 percent and the county average of 21.4 percent.

“Third-grade math has never been this low,” Mr. Jenne said, adding a transition into a different math program used by the school may have been partially to blame.

“When they got to third grade, they’re working on a whole different program,” he said.

Fourth-grade ELA results put the district back where they like to be, at the top with 36.9 percent of students reaching proficiency. That rate was well above the state average of 30.3 percent and the county average of 17.4 percent.

Math scores also rebounded in the fourth grade with Potsdam students again earning the best scores in the region.

Their proficiency rate of 40.6 percent was well higher than the state average of 36.3 percent and more than double the county average of 19 percent.

And while he wasn’t here to administer the tests last year, Mr. Bennett said he was pleased with the results of his students in grades five through eight.

“You can see the trend continuing,” he said, referring to the stellar results in the elementary school.

In fifth-grade ELA, the district missed the top spot in the region, by less than 1 percent. Their proficiency rate of 35.1 percent though, was well above both the state and local averages of 30.2 percent and 20.3 percent respectively.

In fifth-grade math, the district’s students reclaimed their spot as the best in the region with a proficiency rate of 38.1 percent, more than 6 points higher than the next closest school in the area. That rate was also higher than the state average of 29.9 percent and the county’s rate of 14 percent.

As was the case with third-grade math, the middle school saw a blip on the radar with its sixth-grade ELA results.

The district’s proficiency rate of 26.2 percent was below the state average of 26.4 percent and just below the county average of 26.2 percent.

And like their elementary counterparts, the sixth graders rebounded on their math exam with a proficiency rate of 30.0 percent, that while just below the state average of 30.6 percent, had them ranked second in the county.

In seventh-grade ELA ,district students earned a proficiency rate of 50 percent, well above the state average of 31.4 percent and the county average of 28.4 percent.

Seventh-grade math results were ranked third in the region, just below the state average of 27.7 percent with a 26.4 percent proficiency rate. Their proficiency rate also placed them well above the county average of 16.1 percent.

Like the students one year their junior, Potsdam’s eighth graders also earned a proficiency rate of 50 percent on the ELA exam. However, this rate placed them second in the county, but well above the state average of 33.7 percent and the county average of 33.4 percent.

The eighth graders proficiency rate in math of 37.6 percent was good for third in the region and once again well higher than the state average of 27.4 percent and the county average of 18.1 percent.

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